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Dave Meniketti (Y&T)

Interview with Dave Meniketti from Y&T
by Grigoris Chronis at 15 August 2010, 8:08 PM

You, the American Hard Rock fan, owe a lot to this band…whether you just like, passionately love or indefensibly don’t know them, to say the least. Y&T paved the way for countless bands storming arenas in the US in the 80s and their 35-year musical legacy is a solid ball of rock. “Facemelter” – the band’s newest CD – probably sounds better than any loyal Y&T fan would ever imagine and mainman and living legend Dave Meniketti was kind enough to give us some short of insight regarding the band’s latest and current activities.

Hi Dave, glad and a big honor you found the time to answer to Metal-Temple’s question. Hope you ‘re feeling OK!
I’m feeling very well, thank you.

The news is fresh that Phil had some slight injury. Is he feeling OK in general? Does his status affect the band’s plan for the time being? When do you assume he’ll be back at full speed?
He’s managing his injuries, recovering and kicking ass at the shows. Life and touring is going forward as planned for the band and we’re killing it out here on the road.



Well, “Facemelter” has been out for a while now and first question would be rather typical: which were the key factors that resulted in Y&T deciding to record a brand new studio album?
The current band has been together for over 4 years and we’ve been touring the world every year playing 50+ shows a year. Phil and I needed to get creative again and the rest of the guys in this band needed to have it’s own voice in the Y&T experience so we all concluded it was the right time to get back on board with new material. And so far it looks like we did the right thing with this record as most fans and critics are saying it compares with the classic Y&T records like “Black Tiger” and “Menstreak”. The material live perfectly integrates in with the classic Y&T songs as well and have been getting a great reaction at the shows.

Judging from the CD’s songwriting level and general sound, I’d strongly advise anyone into the band to but “Facemelter” since it roars it’s classic Y&T we’re talkin’ about here! Did you decide from the very beginning of the songwriting you’d be focusing on ‘classic’ stuff or you were thinking maybe some kind of experimentation (in the songwriting, instrumentation or production/mix) could probably take place in order to somehow reach today’s youth’s more ‘modern’ requirements?
Thanks for saying so, we agree of course. The writing process was as usual for a Y&T record, which meant that we wrote whatever came to us at the time. After we put together a lot of great song ideas we picked from all of them what we thought would represent a great Y&T record. We had no plans as to what it should be before we started, but we have been so inspired by the last 5 years of constant world touring that it was obvious that it was to be a straight ahead Rock record for us. We also decided to try to record and keep all of our parts, as much as possible, as we recorded them together, rather than overdub all the bass and guitars later. We also made a conscience effort to keep the mixes very basic without a lot of effects, with barely no doubling of parts. We wanted this to sound like the band live and there would be no question that the record and live performances would be virtually identical.

Clocking to an hour of new material, the album’s duration surely is great news for the band’s core fans. On the other hand, are you afraid more average followers may get a little bit tired listening to the tracklist at once? Or you think the album’s material is so user-friendly and it shall roll smoothly?
We were concerned when we picked the songs for the record that we didn’t want to get too long winded on this CD. Sometimes when there is too much material, some fans overlook some of the great songs on the record, but we thought 60 minutes was at the edge of the maximum amount of time. I feel the way we sequenced the songs on this record, like the way we put a live set list together, that this would play very well from top to bottom.

Bering in mind Y&T’s new album is the first after thirteen years, should we suppose some or lots of the numbers in the new album date back to some five or ten years too? Or everything was written from scratch as soon as you decided to start working on “Facemelter”?
Everything was written from scratch except “Gonna Go Blind”, which was written in the 90s.


Are you and Phil in charge of the music and lyrics? Did you get any help from the newer(?) members of the band, John and Mike?
All members had equal participation in the writing process, though Phil and I ended up writing the majority of the material. We all had good input on each and every song which helped to form the end result.

John and Mike have been in the band for many years now, right? Apart from obviously resulting in a perfect chemistry, you think their excitement (and younger age, I guess) is also a driving force and an extra layer of energy for you and Phil, the original members?
Sure, whenever a band has new blood in the lineup it tends to energize the band, as it did with us. The way this band plays together has a great vibe that made us sure thet we wanted to record together and move forward like a new band.

I really am curious to see how many fans shall categorize “Facemelter”: in the 80s that I got familiar with the band, you were promoted by the mass Media as a Heavy Metal band, later on to carry a ‘Hard Rock’ label. Do you ever cared what that label would be? I now remember Lemmy from MOTORHEAD claiming “we’re just playing Rock ‘n’ Roll”. Thus, is “Facemelter” a ‘Heavy Metal’, a ‘Hard Rock’ or a ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ album anno 2010? Does it mind, on the other hand?
I stopped trying to categorize our music decades ago, since everyone else seems to be doing it and changing it all the time. It’s been Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Classic Rock, Hair Metal…I could go on and it makes little difference to me. We play Rock music and if you listen to it, you know what it is and it doesn’t need a label. All that stuff is just insignificant crap to me, used by the Media to put bands into little neat boxes.

Saw you in Germany (Bang Your Head festival) one year ago, plus it’s said your appearance at this year’s Sweden Rock festival was equally impressive. Europe’s been a good shelter for the band I believe, all these years? Are you feeling comfortable travelling and playing to Europe after so many years, really?
Every time we get ready to get on the plane for overseas we are always in a good mood because the experiences we have touring Europe are mostly always great and memorable. The European audiences mean a lot to our career and each band member’s attitudes about touring.

 “I’m Coming Home” surely was a perfect choice for the first video. Are you willing to work on any other video from the album? You think it’s crucial for a band to have a new video from its new album these days? I mean, it seems the ‘MTV-loves-Rock/Metal’ days are long gone…Or maybe YouTube and MySpace are the new means of such spotlight?
The band would love to do another video for this CD, if we can work it out. Videos, while having a bit less impact than they used to in the 80s, are still an important part of publicity for a new project or simply as a great marketing tool for the band. The “I’m Coming Home” video has definitely elevated that song, and the band, to higher place by us having that video on YouTube.


Not to forget: John Taylor Dismukes is behind “Facemelter”’s artwork again? How did you get in contact with him again? Did you have to push him a lot, haha? I appreciate his works for classic Y&T albums (“Mean Streak”, “Black Tiger” etc)!
We did not have to push him at all. He loves Y&T and the work he did for us in the past became a big part of both of our careers, so he was very happy we asked him to do the art for the “Facemelter” CD. We all thought that the classic Dismukes style was something we wanted back on our new projects going forward.

Dave, you slightly prefer the faster stuff in the new album or the milder more bluesy songs? This question goes for the live setlists you have, too!
I have a great love for both. I love playing with emotion and passion, no matter what the style. At the extremes is where you can really get a lot of expression through in your playing, whether that be a balls to the wall fast song or an emotional ballad. In a live situation, one of my favourite tunes to play is “I’ll Cry For You”, which is a bluesy instrumental, along with the solo on “I Believe In You”. They both allow me to achieve a level of expression that can bevery intense and also a different experience every night.

You think (apart from your obvious charisma) your chemistry with Phil is the key factor for keeping Y&T together all these years? We’re talkin’ ‘bout 35 years, huh! You think one without the other would result in completely different (music or life related) choices?
There is no question that Phil and my relationship is a huge part of how this band survives and comes across. We are the driving force behind the decisions made for everything that Y&T does, from touring, to musical decisions. Certainly if I were to play in a band without Phil it would have a different slant to it. The chemistry we have together and our mutual love and respect has taken this band to an unbelievable long career which looks like it will last a long time further.
Would like to ask another 1,000 questions to be honest, but…thanx Dave! Really wish all the best for Y&T and “Facemelter” and we now wait to welcome you back on European soil in late September. Thanx a lot!
Can’t wait to get back there in the fall. It’s gonna be a great tour.Cheers!




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Edited 25 February 2021
 

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